The Bigger They Are…

The best reporting on the ground in Iraq.  No green zone balcony stuff collected by questionable Iraqi stringers.  From Angels Among Us 

…he parked to allow observation of some key terrain. Directly atop a bomb. Within seconds, Mark got the willies about the parking spot, and just as he was about to come over the radio BLAM!

The heavy Stryker flew into the air, blasting tires asunder, one tire flying more than a hundred yards. The explosion was so hard that it traumatized the tailbones of the men. The blast ripped through the bottom of the Strkyer and straight into an AT-4 missile, cutting the missile in half, but neither the missile nor the propellant exploded.

The fire extinguishing system blasted away, the place was completely dark–the back hatch was jammed, but the tiny emergency hatch was blasted open, yet was behind ripped metal that would cut any survivors or rescuers to ribbons. There was no light whatsoever in the smoke, dust and fire extinquishers.

Nine men were in the Stryker….

Not one died.  Michael Yon gets the soldiers thoughts on that later in the dispatch, but I’ll let you read it.

From Jungle Law:    …But the news that never flashed is that no amount of armor can completely protect us. Armor is extremely important, but given time, the enemy will defeat it…we are 15 seconds from rolling over a large bomb buried under the road… 5 seconds: One of the terrorists does a double take at the lead Stryker, blowing his cover. The call instantly goes out to “Block left! Lock ‘em down! Two pax!”…  They all pile out, some chasing a running man, as an ambush develops…
…We had left the prisoner in the open. Bullets are snapping, and I’m crouched on a knee behind a Stryker. When I look back again, I see Kurilla standing out there, alone, next to the terrorist on the sidewalk. Bullets are kicking up dirt and Kurilla gives us a look: What the hell! You left the prisoner!

For a moment, I nearly ran back out to drag the terrorist behind the Stryker, but then I thought, Nope, he’s a terrorist! If Kurilla gets shot, I’m definitely going to get him. But the terrorist can get shot to pieces and I don’t care.

Instead of doing something useful–and I feel marginally guilty about this, but not too much–I start snapping photos as the Commander drags the guy by the collar to get him to the cover of the Stryker. I can’t believe Kurilla is still alive after nearly a year of doing this….One soldier said, “You’re not going to write about this are you? That wasn’t anything. Don’t make it sound like a big deal, okay? My mom reads your stuff, and every time you write about something dangerous she freaks out.”

“No problem,” I said, “I’ll water it down from here out.”…


From: Gates of Fire
…I seldom get letters in Iraq, but waiting for me in the mailroom while I slept was a card. The return address sticker, an American flag on it, was from Jefferson, Pennsylvania. The postage stamp had an American flag waving. The card inside had a picture of an American flag for its cover. The sweet and heartfelt message inside ended with-

Please tell our soldiers we care so much for them. -Dan and Connie Lama….
“Sergeant Lama’s been shot. We’re rolling in ten minutes,” he said….There is just no easy way to say, “Your son got shot today.” And so, according to men here, the calls sound something like this: “We are sorry to inform you that your son has been shot in Mosul. He’s stable, but that’s all we know at this time.”

LTC Kurilla likes to call before the Army gets a chance, to tell parents and loved ones the true circumstances….Chaplain Wilson came out from the hospital smiling and explained that Daniel (Sergeant Lama) was fine…It was just a flesh wound…I heard the commander telling this soldier’s mother that her son was fine…. “Really, Daniel’s okay, and don’t worry about it when the Army calls you.”…
Later, after chasing some terrorists by helicopter and on the ground, the bad guys took off running…Folks who haven’t done much urban fighting might take issue with the wild chases, and they might say that people should always “stack up” and do things this or that way, but men in Delta Force, SEALs and the like, all know that when chasing wild men into the labyrinth, soldiers enter the land of confusion. If soldiers don’t go fast, the bad guys simply get away. Just a few minutes ago, these three guys were going “105 miles per hour,” and outrunning a helicopter….
…Kurilla was running when he was shot, but he didn’t seem to miss a stride; he did a crazy judo roll and came up shooting.

BamBamBamBam! Bullets were hitting all around Kurilla. The young 2nd lieutenant and specialist were the only two soldiers near. Neither had real combat experience. AH had no weapon. I had a camera.

Seconds count.

Kurilla, though down and unable to move, was fighting and firing, yelling at the two young soldiers to get in there; but they hesitated. BamBamBamBam!

Kurilla was in the open, but his judo roll had left him slightly to the side of the shop. I screamed to the young soldiers, “Throw a grenade in there!” but they were not attacking.

“Throw a grenade in there!” They did not attack….

You don’t get writing like this in the antique media, for the most part.  Their stuff has to go through too many channels to make it into the news- editors, producers, lawyers- current events by committee.  The antique media don’t quite seem to know what to make of Michael Yon and other people like him, that just won’t fit into the neat little cubbyholes they want them to.  From the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Aug. 27, 2005:

In a sign of how technology is changing the way in which the war is
reported, anyone with access to the internet can see the graphic episode that put Kurilla in the hospital…
As Kurilla’s story finds an instant audience on the Internet, Paul Grabowitz, director of the new media studies program at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, says blogs are permanently changing war coverage.  “It’s much easier, obviously, for a freelancer to publish information that they’ve gotten for a story, whether text or photos or whatever,” he said.  “And it’s not like somebody standing on a street corner passing out flyers that they mimeographed of ‘My thoughts on the war in Iraq.’ The Internet has lent credence … to people who are independent, being part of the sort
of mix of coverage of an event. … I don’t know how far that’s going to go.”…

Hmmm, a Berkeley School of Journalism director.  Without reading anything extra into the above, it seems that he is concerned about the credibility of the blogosphere.  The fact that it is self-policing, i.e. Rathergate, seems to be lost on him.  Does he think that “It’s much easier, obviously, for a freelancer to publish information that they’ve gotten for a story, whether text or photos or whatever,” also applies in Mr. Yon’s case?  Really?  Easy?!   

The Seattle Times, Aug. 28, 2005, had this to say about Yon’s influence on Iraq reporting:

…Although not well-known, Kurilla — the highest ranking soldier from the Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade to be seriously wounded in battle — has a
dedicated following on the Internet.  For more than eight months, a blog
written by independent journalist Michael Yon has chronicled the battles, strategies and sorrows of Kurilla’s unit, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry (“Deuce Four”).  Yon’s periodic dispatches often describe details and tactics of the Iraq war not found in the mainstream media…
…Military-related sites on the Internet lighted up with news of Kurilla’s injuries, indicating national interest in the fate of the 39-year-old Tacoma resident…

From The Detroit News, Feb. 23, 2006:

…In the blogosphere, opinions fly with abandon. Unconventional characters,
who would make the mainstream media blanch, thrive.  What big newspaper or television network, after all, would have taken a chance on a self-taught war correspondent, who once killed a man in a barroom fight and whose last
venture had him pursuing an American cannibal around the globe?  Would the mainstream media have kept him on the job after the day he grabbed a soldier’s rifle (during an alley fight in Mosul), and fired off several rounds at the enemy?…

Sounds like somewhat grudging admiration.  Small steps.  The left and the antique’s seem to want a plan for everything, and when it doesn’t work according to plan, which is almost always, they want a scapegoat.  Thank God there are still some around that realize how stupid that is.  As Yon said in Gates of Fire:  Folks who haven’t done much urban fighting might take issue with the wild chases, and they might say that people should always “stack up” and do things this or that way, but men in Delta Force, SEALs and the like, all know that when chasing wild men into the labyrinth, soldiers enter the land of confusion. If soldiers don’t go fast, the bad guys simply get away.

For those of you that are familiar with Michael Yon’s work, bear with me.  I cannot stop there.  The testimonials and good wishes for the health and safety of this guy, and the quality of his work need to be gotten out, and since I can’t help financially, I hope this helps in some small way.  Here is Oliver North on Michael Yon’s photo.  Oh, yeah, the photo.  The heartrending photo of a soldier cradling a little girl in his arms after terrorists drove a car bomb through a group of playing children to get at the Americans.  The photo evidently went out over the wires without attribution to start with, but as far as I can tell, Yon owns the copyright.  Evidently, a big, and I mean huge, conglomerate media empire, Hachette Filipacchi Media (HFM), has decided they can just publish the photo without getting Yon’s permission.  On top of that, it is being used to bolster the point that Iraq is another Viet Nam.

 The photo in questionThe Battle for Mosul Part III was where this now famous photo was taken.  Bob Kerr, in The Providence Journal,  May 22, 2005, talks about the photo in an article that was one of the first to point out how different Yon’s approach was.  Here are interviews by Rita Cosby on two consecutive nights, that include Bruce Willis, who has expressed an interest in being part of a movie based on the exploits of the Deuce Four.  Michell Malkin has a couple of posts about this here and here.  Finally, here is where you go to help Michael Yon fight back against the giant.  These guys publish the following magazines:

American Photo  
Car and Driver  
Cycle World  
Elle Décor     
Elle Girl
Metropolitan Home    
Mobile Entertainment  
Popular Photography
Road and Track 
Sound and Vision 
Woman’s Day

And, last, but certainly not least, the main offender, Shock.  You can get all the contact info you need at the last link.  The giant has upset a lot of military guys, and gals, many of whom read Yon’s dispatches for the truth.  Let’s see if we can’t make him fall.  Good luck, Michael.  God bless you and all our soldiers.

America:  Home of the free because of the brave!


Published in: on July 6, 2006 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

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